Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for the start of a new historical romance series from Catherine Tinley!
Book: A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley
Publication date: 22nd February 2022
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge via Rachel’s Random Resources. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: Death of a spouse/parent (prior to story); death of side characters and grief (during story); sexual harassment (not graphic, but on page); child with disability/chronic physical illness (no negative or abusive language, but there is a prominent plot around healing).
A penniless governess
And the dour Laird of Ardmore
Lydia Farnham must travel to a remote Scottish island to work for widower Alasdair MacDonald, who doesn’t trust her or her unconventional teaching methods! Yet as his daughter flourishes, so, too, does the intense connection between Lydia and Alasdair. Only she should know better than to fall for the handsome laird when it could leave her without a job, or a home…
I simply loved this book! A Laird for the Governess has to be one of the sweetest, cosiest historical romances I’ve ever read. I’m usually a big fan of a Highlander-out-of-water kind of story, like Suzanne Enoch’s Wild Wicked Highlanders (see my reviews of It’s Getting Scot in Here and Scot Under the Covers) where a Scottish hero has to rapidly adapt to English society, but this is pretty much the reverse, with a mild-mannered English governess discovering a new way of life on a remote Scottish island. There’s still plenty of humour in that adaptation, but there’s also a gentleness to it; I really loved how accepting, caring, and equal the islanders were, which was a nice break from the very stratified life of the English ton. This book is delightful from start to finish; it’s genuinely one of the most wholesome, heartwarming romances I’ve ever read.
Lydia is an interesting heroine, as she has all the sparky intelligence of a typical romance lead, but she’s used to hiding her talents and shying away from all contact because of the negative impact her beauty has had on her. It would be easy to roll your eyes at a heroine who is just too beautiful – what a nice problem to have! – but the story does a fantastic, sensitive job of showing that actually yes, her looks have been a burden to her, because she lives in a time where sexual harassment is always the woman’s fault. Very early on in the book Lydia is dismissed from her position, her reputation in tatters, because a society gentleman made a move on her, and she was instantly branded promiscuous despite doing everything in her power to put him off. Experiences like this are shown to have had a deep impact on every aspect of her life, from the way she dresses to the way she communicates, and it’s impossible not to rejoice as she discovers that life can be different, that it takes getting outside of high society and its sexism to find a place where she can just be herself. Alasdair was wonderfully respectful of her, but so was everyone else, and there’s a scene towards the end that had me cheering at how safe and loved Lydia was!
The romance itself is wonderful. I typically prefer things a little spicier – there are actually no sex scenes in the whole book! – but I didn’t feel anything was lacking here, because for swoonworthy romantic feelings, this is simply perfect. For me what made this special was that the feelings between Lydia and Alasdair arose very naturally; there was a certain amount of insta-attraction, but neither acts on it and instead, their love develops fairly slowly as they watch each other’s behaviour, especially around Mairead, Alasdair’s daughter. The fact that their love is based on personality, over a decent amount of time, meant that I was 100% behind them because I got to be shown why they were loveable too, rather than just being told. I predict a happy, stable future for them, which is my favourite thing to find in a romance!
I do want to quickly touch on the subject of Mairead, because there was a point in the book where I thought this was going to be a ‘miraculous healing of disability’ plotline, which I find very distasteful, but I want to reassure anyone else looking at this that is very far from what ends up happening. Without giving spoilers, Mairead’s illness is not what it seems, and, like the romance, her development as a character comes naturally and sensitively. One thing I really enjoy in governess romances is where the relationship with the child is as important, if not more important, than the romance to both the leads; adults taking good care of their kids and putting them first is what I love to see, and it’s here in bucketloads. I fell in love with her as much as with the main couple!
This book just gave me such a warm feeling while I was reading it, and I can definitely see it becoming a real comfort read. I highly recommend it if you love very low-key stories where the focus is on character development and the slow, natural growth of romance. Five out of five cats!
If this review has tickled your fancy, you can grab your own copy here, or why not enter the blog tour’s giveaway? You could win two signed copies of A Laird for the Governess (1 x UK/Ireland Winner, 1 INT Winner) – just click here to enter.
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